Corruption, subsidies and skyrocketing prices are the only things “green” energy installation can supply, but then again, – plenty of it.
First article from Washington Examiner
The Trump administration is “bullish” about offshore wind, working with governors in the Northeast to transform what was once a fringe and costly investment into America’s newest energy-producing industry.
“When the president said energy dominance, it was made without reference to a type of energy,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told the Washington Examiner in an interview. “It was making sure as a country we are American energy first and that includes offshore wind. There is an enormous opportunity, especially off the East Coast, for wind. I am very bullish.”
On a recent tour of coastal states, Zinke found “magnitudes” more interest in offshore wind than oil and natural gas drilling.
Facing widespread opposition from politicians in states fearful of oil spills along their tourist-drawing coasts, Zinke is likely to scale back a draft plan to open nearly all federal waters for drilling, which he says has attracted “modest interest at best.”
But the Atlantic Ocean is open for business for offshore wind, and developers are paying up, with the support of governors such as Republicans Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland, and Democrats Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island.
“Market excitement is moving towards offshore wind,” Zinke said. “I haven’t seen this kind of enthusiasm from the industry since the Bakken shale boom.”
As the cost of onshore renewables drops, offshore wind, which produces strong gusts for long periods of time, represents perhaps the biggest clean energy opportunity of them all.
“There is enough wind out there to generate all of the electricity needs on the East Coast,” said Stephanie McClellan, director of the special initiative on the offshore wind at the University of Delaware. “You have the Saudi Arabia of offshore wind sitting there on the East Coast, waiting to be built and developed.”
Block Island, a small 30-megawatt wind farm off the Rhode Island coast that can power 17,000 homes, is the nation’s only current offshore project, but it is likely to have company soon.
Last month, Massachusetts and Rhode Island awarded a combined 1,200 megawatts of contracts to become the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind complex, on waters leased by the federal government.
In Massachusetts, a group made up of a Danish investment firm and a Spanish utility plans to build an 800-megawatt wind farm off Martha’s Vineyard, enough to power a half million homes.
The leases come after the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in April requested input on which parts of the Atlantic Ocean offer a strong opportunity for leasing.
Building on offshore wind auctions that began during the Obama administration, BOEM is engaged in 11 active commercial leases for offshore wind along the Atlantic Coast, from Massachusetts to North Carolina.
“We are seeing a lot of confidence throughout the offshore wind energy sector in the U.S. right now,” Walter Cruickshank, BOEM’s acting director, told the Washington Examiner. “There is a lot out there, but there is more to come.”
Zinke and Cruickshank acknowledge that states are leading on offshore wind, and the federal government is a willing partner.
All of the planned projects are targeted for federal waters, farther away from shores, meaning the federal government is the landowner and developers pay an annual lease to the Treasury Department, as well as an initial auction bid.
“The driver of this has been a lot of state legislatures are greening out their energy portfolios and are looking for the best resource to do that,” Zinke said. “It’s really a partnership between states and the federal government.”
Northeast states like New York and New Jersey, with huge populations along their coasts, are targeting offshore wind as a major component of their efforts to increase their renewable portfolios.
“It’s a large scale source of clean, reliable energy near our largest population centers and cities, and so having that amount of energy closest to load where you won’t lose a lot in transmission is critical to meeting the nation’s domestic energy goals,” said Nancy Sopko, director of offshore wind and federal legislative affairs at the American Wind Energy Association.
New England, which has the country’s highest electricity prices, is particularly suitable for offshore wind. Many of the region’s coal and nuclear plants are retiring, and there is a shortage of pipeline capacity to bring natural gas to the area. There is little land for wind turbines onshore, and the sun doesn’t shine much there to allow for much solar power.
“There is a need for energy in the Northeast that is fundamental to electricity markets today,” Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, the developer of the Block Island wind farm. “Offshore wind is more like a baseload power plant than other types of renewables because the wind blows stronger and more consistently offshore. It is a more likely power source to replace some of the retiring coal and nuclear plants. We are well positioned in solving that problem.”
Deepwater Wind is developing three other projects in the U.S., including winning a bid in last month’s auction for a 400-megawatt wind farm off Rhode Island’s shore.
A 90-megawatt project in the federal water off Long Island is slated to come online in 2022, Grybowski said, with the potential to produce three times as much power as the Block Island wind farm.
Deepwater is planning an even bigger 120-megawatt project in the federal water off the coast of Maryland, which has been approved by the state government and utility commission.
Grybowski said he purposely started small with Block Island, learning the lessons from the notorious failing of Cape Wind, a more than 400-megawatt offshore wind farm near Massachusetts that was never built.
Late last year, the company behind the wind project off Cape Cod gave up on the nearly two-decade fight to bring it to life, stymied by litigation, financial problems, and opposition from waterfront homeowners, fishermen, and others.
Block Island, which started producing wind in 2016, took eight years to develop, as Deepwater had to contend with state and federal regulatory hurdles.
“There were a lot of skeptics before Block Island that we could figure out how to do it in the U.S.,” Grybowski said. “It showed that you can actually get permits, financial entities can support a project like this, the utility can get comfortable buying energy from offshore wind, and stakeholders like fishermen can get to the point where they can live with offshore wind.”
Grybowski says he is now more comfortable pursuing bigger projects, as developers are working closely with the Interior Department and local fishing and shipping interests to minimize impact. Communities have resisted the projects for aesthetic reasons, viewing large turbines as eyesores.
“The most important decision you make on offshore wind is a real estate decision, where are you going to build it,” Grybowski said. “Picking the right location is a thing you can’t fix later. If you mess that up, the project will probably fail. That is the real challenge in our business. It’s not a construction challenge.”
Read rest at Washington Examiner
Britain Has Gone Nine Days Without Wind Power
Britain’s gone nine days with almost no wind generation, and forecasts show the calm conditions persisting for another two weeks.
The wind drought has pushed up day-ahead power prices to the highest level for the time of year for at least a decade. Apart from a surge expected around June 14, wind levels are forecast to stay low for the next fortnight, according to The Weather Company.
U.K. turbines can produce about as much power as 12 nuclear reactors when conditions are right. During the “Beast from the East” storm that hit Britain in March, they generated record levels of power and at times provided the biggest share of the nation’s electricity.
Low wind power isn’t a threat to supplies in June when demand is low. On a dull, dark day in winter when heating demand peaks, a calm day might leave the U.K. grid vulnerable.
“People would’ve started worrying about brownouts,” Elchin Mammadov, analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence said. “This shows that relying on wind, solar and batteries to supply the majority of our power is reckless for energy security.”
Read more about wind’s role during cold weather this winter
On Wednesday, wind generated about 4.3 percent of the U.K.’s electricity. Coal output has dropped near zero. Gas and nuclear have picked up the slack with 54 percent and 25 percent respectively, according to data from National Grid Plc.
The weather can be fickle and the government has to make sure that there is enough back up generation for times when the wind isn’t blowing. Greg Clark, secretary of state for business energy and industrial strategy announced Monday that the U.K. will take the next step toward agreeing to help Hitachi Ltd. finance a new nuclear reactor.
Wind Power Output Collapses Send Power Prices into Orbit: The World’s Biggest Joke Just Got Serious
Intermittent wind and solar are a natural guarantee of grid chaos and rocketing power prices. The debacle that started in the renewable energy ‘superpower’, also known as South Australia has broken the border and is spreading fast.
New South Wales is now being treated to a lesson on how increasing reliance on the ‘unreliables’ inevitably sends power prices into orbit.
The Australian’s Andrew White, has been the front man for renewables rent-seekers for years now, routinely running friendly puff pieces on wind and solar projects, with nary a hint of objective criticism. Hence his attempt to avoid the unavoidable in the piece below. STT deals with what Andrew fails to, further below.
Outages ‘result of renewables’
9 June 2018
Generators at five of the six NSW coal-fired power stations were hit by outages heading into the long weekend, stripping about a third of the state’s capacity and spiking spot prices to a forecast high of $14,000 in the early evening.
Generation units at Vales Point, Tallawarra, Liddell, Bayswater and Mount Piper went offline this week due to planned and unplanned maintenance issues, with only Eraring, the state’s biggest and most modern, operating at full capacity.
The outages threatened a third day of shutdowns at the Tomago aluminium smelter, the state’s largest single energy user, to avoid multi-million-dollar losses on the high energy prices.
Tomago chief executive Matt Howell said Australia was at a crisis point with its energy system because it was losing baseload generation needed for heavy industry.
“This is a direct result of renewable energy hollowing out the baseload generation in this country,” Mr Howell said.
Since the closure of the Northern and Hazelwood coal plants only new wind and solar capacity had been built, but it was not suitable for heavy industry.
Tomago had to shut down one of its three aluminium potlines for 45 minutes on Tuesday evening and two others for an hour each on Thursday to avoid exposures to peak energy prices. The shutdowns reduced demand by 300MW.
Mr Howell said that at $14,000 per MWh — the maximum allowed in the National Electricity Market — it would cost $200,000 to make a tonne of aluminium and the plant would lose $5 million an hour.
“If we want to be a nation that makes things, rather than one that imports all of its needs, we must have internationally affordable and reliable energy — a system that can reliably deliver, independently of the weather,” Mr Howell said.
The Australian Energy Market Operator said NSW lost 3800MW of generation capacity this week, nearly a third of its 12,000MW installed coal generation capacity.
It coincided with overcast and low-wind weather that limited renewables generation and forced NSW to draw more heavily on power from Queensland and Victoria.
Spot prices calculated on five-minute intervals jumped to almost $300 in NSW, more than double the prices in other states, heading into the evening demand peak period.
It came in a week in which two of the three biggest retailers and generators, AGL Energy and Origin Energy, announced modest falls in retail electricity prices.
AEMO said the conditions did not lead to any “involuntary load shedding” — industry speak for blackouts.
“While a number of generating units in NSW were out of service due to planned maintenance, this had no impact on reserve conditions,” AEMO said in a statement.
“A further two unplanned forced outages, however, did result in 1320MW dropping out of the market and resulted in tighter reserve levels.”
One of the four 420MW generators at AGL’s Liddell plant will be out for up to six weeks, while a second unit has been “derated” to around two-thirds of its capacity so that it can operate safely.
Two of the 660MW units at the adjacent Bayswater plant have suffered boiler tube leaks that took them out of action at the same time as a third unit was out for scheduled maintenance
The founder of Global-Roam consultancy Paul McArdle said only 6000MW of NSW coal capacity was available yesterday, which was an improvement on Thursday, but about 2000MW less than at the same time last week.
Poorest Families Left Powerless: Britain Squanders £100 Billion on Renewable Energy
Subsidised wind and solar guarantee rocketing power prices, leaving plenty of pensioners and the poor powerless.
You know you’re dealing with an ideologue when your antagonist couldn’t care less about the vulnerable and impoverished that drift along at the very edge of society.
Justifying someone else’s suffering takes nerve, but it can be done (at least in the mind of the tormentor). Those that promote wind and solar at the expense of reliable and affordable electricity, live and breathe a form of self-assured malice towards their fellow human beings – of a kind familiar to those on the receiving end of Stalin’s purges and Chairman Mao’s, ‘Great Leap Forward’. Those dishing it out back then, ‘justified’ their actions as being for the greater good, just like eco-zealots do now.
In Britain, as elsewhere, you’ll find plenty of apparatchiks who have endless passion for renewable energy, but no compassion at all. See if you can spot them.
Energy poverty and the home truths MPs would rather ignore
18 May 2018
Why has the Government still not formally responded to the independent review that it commissioned into the cost of energy? Perhaps its findings are too damning. Staggeringly, the review found that the government has wasted the best part of £100 billion on the decarbonisation of the power sector.
That this is not more widely known is thanks to the cosy consensus that exists in the British media around the need for renewables, which means that their effectiveness, or value for money, is ignored. The real victims of this wastefulness are those struggling in energy poverty, who have paid far too much for their electricity as a result.
Their money went straight on to the profit margins of renewable energy companies who had claimed that only vast subsidies would make them viable. Now they say that those subsidies actually resulted in falling prices. What the review reveals is that they took the civil servants and politicians for a ride, ordinary people paid the price, and they will continue to do so if nothing is done.
It should be obvious to anyone with a basic grasp of economics that if you let civil servants set the subsidies for renewable energy generation, they will end up much higher than if you invite competitive bids through auctions.
Since auctions have been introduced there have been significant reductions in prices, but this is sadly too little, too late, because high prices have been guaranteed far into the future. Ninety per cent of the bill for renewables up to 2030 has already been determined. This is an important fact to remember when you next hear someone banging on about how fast the cost of renewables is falling.
Professor Dieter Helm, who was commissioned to produce the Cost of Energy Review, is one of Britain’s most respected energy economists and supports the Government’s objective substantially to reduce its emissions. By no means a climate sceptic, then. His report takes it as given that the Climate Change Act must be met. Even more could be saved if this damaging and ineffective piece of legislation were removed, but this isn’t even considered.
Nonetheless, he has many sensible recommendations for the Government.
A key driver of recent energy price rises has been increased network costs, which now make up almost 28 per cent of electricity bills. These have increased as grid reinforcements have been made by the National Grid and the distribution companies to cope with the large amounts of renewable and intermittent generation coming on to the system.
Helm points the finger at an outdated pricing system and a lack of competition for network services. A situation exists where the National Grid and the Distribution Network Operators operate the electricity network, maintain it and invest in its expansion. This is a clear conflict of interest and they have easily exploited the regulators (Ofgem) who determine their income. It is no wonder that the National Grid makes more profit per worker, a whopping £350,000, than any other company in the UK.
To solve this problem, Helm suggests creating system operators which would be given the statutory responsibility of balancing electricity demand and supply from day to day, but crucially would not own any assets in themselves. They would be able to put all of the network services out to tender. For any location, bids could be invited from any option that the market might bring forward – whether that be through demand response, storage, grid reinforcements, or through new investments in local generation. This would bring much-needed competition into a failing sector, and end the need for regulators to set prices, an approach that always ends badly.
Another recommendation is to separate the expensive renewable energy contracts into a ‘bad bank’, so that consumers no longer have to pick up the bill directly. These contracts have already been signed, so the costs will have to be met. But meeting them through general taxation could be a fairer way to proceed, particularly for the poorest who are hit hardest by levies.
Most important of Helm’s recommendations is his proposal for ‘Equivalent Firm Power Auctions’. This would finally allow all generation technologies to compete on a fair basis. At the moment, renewable generators are shielded from the costs of intermittency that they impose on the system, ie the cost of their inherent unreliability. Helm proposes that they should now have to compete on a ‘firm equivalent basis’, meaning that their value is linked to the amount of time they can be relied upon to provide power.
Ultimately, this is a way of revealing fair prices for providing electricity capacity, without favour to any particular technology. It would simplify the tangled web of policies that exist at present and which treat each technology on a different basis, thus limiting the Government’s ability to pick winners. Policy would no longer be driven by aggressive lobbyists who exploit MPs’ lack of knowledge and good sense.
To judge them by their actions, these MPs seem to have little concern for reducing energy costs for the most vulnerable. They prefer to indulge in meaningless platitudes about climate change that often have no basis in science, and compound this error by repeatedly failing to acknowledge the significant impact that their policies are having on energy prices and living standards.
A notable exception is the Labour member for Blackley and Broughton, Graham Stringer, who called a Westminster Hall debate on Helm’s review. While he and a small number of concerned MPs pleaded on behalf of those affected by energy poverty, the climate change minister, Claire Perry, sat fiddling with her phone, only to give a tin-eared response celebrating Britain’s phase-out of coal, and wishing we could persuade even poorer countries to give up coal too. To have some humility when you’re costing real people’s jobs and livelihoods would be appropriate, however noble you think the cause may be.
The debate was interesting nonetheless, because of what it revealed: that the extortionately expensive decarbonisation of the power sector is only a taste of what is to come. As Conservative MP James Heappey rather sinisterly put it during the Westminster Hall debate:
‘It will be very challenging when we have to start telling people that they need to reduce their consumption of milk, cheese, and everything else in the interest of decarbonisation, but that conversation is surely coming.’
This is the simple logic of the Climate Change Act: once the power sector has been decarbonised, politicians will have to find multifarious new and extreme ways to ‘save the planet’, encroaching further and further into our lives. The solution is worse than the problem, and free thinkers should resist it every step of the way.
Helm’s review, whether you agree with it or not, is as Peter Lilley describes: ‘lucid, logically coherent, original and devastating . . . an outstanding contribution to policymaking’.
At the very least, it provides a sensible way forward in the unfortunate world of the Climate Change Act. Just as importantly, it is a vital corrective to the narrative that free markets are to blame for high energy prices. ‘No!’ this report shouts. Complex state interference has squandered billions, and it is through more competition, not less, that we can finally find a way out of this mess.